Fall Colors Getaways in Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee-Tahoe

WITH GRASS VALLEY AND NEVADA CITY AS A BASE, visitors can view fall colors in historic towns and along the “roads less traveled” — Hwys. 49, 174 & 20. Enjoy the splendor of fall, along with food & wine, arts & culture, history, shopping and recreation.

Check into a B&B, inn or motel: the Broad Street Inn, Deer Creek Inn and Outside Inn, among others. Most are a short walk from restaurants, wine tasting rooms and art galleries.

Eat breakfast at Ike’s Quarter Cafe. We like the cornmeal flapjacks with bacon or veggie bacon cooked inside, served with two eggs.

Visit the South Fork of the Yuba River outside of town via Hwys. 49 or 20. A 20-mile portion of the river stretches from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park to the Bridgeport Covered Bridge (redolent of New England). The fall colors are vibrant. The South Yuba River State Park is ideal for picnicking.

For a wine tasting adventure, visit Double Oak Vineyard & Winery, north of Nevada City, on Saturdays. On the road to Double Oak, North San Juan is home to the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center (with its Autumn Shindig Harvest Festival).

Back in town, Nevada City has three wine tasting rooms: Clavey, Szabo and Nevada City Winery. Other daytime activities around town include the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, shopping, and ART OnSite, a public art project along the Deer Creek Tribute Trail.

The Nevada City Farmers Market, held Saturday mornings until November 23, is a quintessential small-town experience.

At nighttime, visitors can enjoy a wide range of dining options: Lefty’s Grill, Matteo’s Public, Las Katrinas, Sopa Thai, Friar Tucks, New Moon Cafe and others. Most are also open for lunch.

Visit Treats of Nevada City, across from Ike’s, for homemade desserts and coffee drinks.

Visitors can enjoy live theater and music at the Nevada Theatre (the state’s oldest original-use theater), Miners Foundry Cultural Center or Off Broadstreet Theatre.

Check into a Victorian B&B such as Lamb’s Victorian Inn or a deluxe hotel such as Gold Miners Inn-Holiday Inn Express or Grass Valley Courtyard Suites. All are within walking distance to downtown.

Eat breakfast at Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro, famous for 101 omelets (we like #50, asparagus, avocado, tomatoes and Jack cheese). Kane’s Family Restaurant serves breakfast all day and all night long. Maria’s Mexican Restaurant serves an authentic Mexican breakfast on weekends.

A memorable fall colors tour includes the Open Studios Art Tour of western Nevada County on October 5-6 and 12-13. Attendees can visit 74 local artists in 34 studios.

Throughout the fall-holiday season, visit Empire Mine State Park. The park contains 12 miles of trails for hikers and bikers. “Holidays at the Empire Mine” is November 29, with period costumes, cookies and Santa Claus.

Another Grass Valley attraction is the Nevada County Fairgrounds, often called “California’s most beautiful fairgrounds.” On November 29-December 1 it is host to “A Country Christmas Faire.”

Wineries are loosely clustered around Grass Valley, including Bent Metal (just past the County Fairgrounds); Solune and Montoliva, along Hwy. 174; Naggiar and Sierra Knolls, off Hwy. 49 toward Auburn; and Pilot Peak in Penn Valley. Downtown Grass Valley tasting rooms include Avanguardia, Sierra Starr, Smith and Lucchesi. 151 Union Square offers local wines and craft beers.

A fall colors getaway can be organized around music too. The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley has become a hub for music, performing arts and arts in the foothills. The Fall Headliners include Blues Traveler, Buddy Guy, Michael Pollan, Graham Nash and Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt.

On the web, visit GoNevadaCounty.com, SierraCulture.com, HistoricGrassValley.com, NevadaCityChamber.com, Truckee.com

(photos: Bridgeport Covered Bridge, Michael Weissenborn; “Aspen Headwaters,” Karel Hendee)

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